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‘House Hunters International’ episode is HGTV’s 10th trip to Merida

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Lee Steele
Lee Steele is the founding director of Roof Cat Media and has published Yucatán Magazine and other titles since 2012. Sign up for our weekly newsletters, so our top headlines will appear in your inbox each Monday and Thursday.

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Merida, Yucatan — A young North Carolina family moves to Merida, Mexico, to work remotely and broaden their sons’ horizons. With the kids’ school located halfway between Merida and the beach, they must decide to stay in town or on the Gulf of Mexico.

That’s the only thing we know about tonight’s “House Hunters International.” It’s the franchise’s 10th foray in 10 years filming expats looking for Merida real estate.

The episode, called “Family Magic in Merida,” airs on U.S. television tonight at 10:30, and then replays overnight at 1:30 a.m.

If you miss it, there’s a possibility one might catch it online. The ninth episode, July 2018’s “Nomads Settle Down in Mexico” with Tommo, Megsy and White City Property’s owner Carol Kirby Williams, was available on YouTube for a time, but no longer. HGTV also streams on Hulu.

What’s their budget? What are their tastes? YEL asked HGTV executives for a comment and production images, but they haven’t yet replied.

HGTV has also followed couples looking for homes on the beach, but so far, the network seems to have a distinct taste for the Centro.

For a previous story on House Hunters International’s franchise, the show’s executive producer said that even after the seven episodes already shot at the time, they haven’t exhausted Mérida’s “infinite world of possibilities.”

“It never gets old,” said John Bertholon, who remembers HHI’s first shoot here in 2009, before the Centro housing boom.

“The housing stock — you could get a lot for the money,” Bertholon says. “High ceilings, beautiful courtyards, that was one of the things that attracted us. Now, the prices must have doubled since 2009-2010.”

In 2009, the show’s very first Mérida house hunter spent $60,000 USD on a modest fixer, and toured homes priced no more than $170,000. She also renovated with a budget of $50,000 and a timeline of two months, at least according to the plot line. 

The HHI formula

Many expats are in Yucatán after learning about the community for the first time on “House Hunters International” and similar programs.

The shows recreate a super-condensed home-buying experience in countries around the world. Buyers stroll through three properties, taking a cursory look at the rooms before choosing one.

In real life, episodes are shot after the buyers already bought a home, which should not be a secret to the viewing public. Viewers should think of the program as more of a fun guessing game than reality television.

Production company Leopard USA is on the hunt for a locale that “pops” on the screen. From the people they feature, they look for a “relationship story” — either with a couple, or a single person shopping with a friend.

For their crew, Yucatán is a pleasure to work in, Bertholon said in 2018. 

“It’s a really pleasant place to shoot,” said Bertholon. “Who wouldn’t want to own a home there?”

Related: Does HHI help sell a house? Imagine Merida wants to know.

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